Jorma Valkama, a research assistant who hails from Rovaniemi, has had an interest in stones from an early age.
Valkama’s parents used to be avid collectors of stones. His interest was piqued particularly by a sample of uvarovite, a rare specimen from the garnet family found in Outokumpu that his father had gotten as a present. “It got me thinking that stones can be as beautiful as plants,” says Valkama, who was ten years old at the time.
His understanding of the world of stones began to grow further when he was offered a prospecting dog to train. “A trainer has to know stones and minerals, so I started to study the subject seriously,” says Valkama.
“In 1979, I saw a colleague’s stone collection, with 300–400 samples. He had polished some of them, and when I saw them, I thought it was magnificent! Since then, I have actively collected stones in my spare time.”
Valkama reports that he has collected stone samples from all over Finland and abroad. “I focus on the gemstones of Lapland, because this is such a vast area with ample areas to search,” he says.
Valkama regards finding the Luosto amethyst deposit in 1985 as one of his most significant discoveries. At the time, he had been carrying out excavation work in Lampivaara with his wife Sirpa for five years. He recalls, “I had been collecting stones for only a few years, and making such an impressive discovery was tremendously inspiring.”
Another discovery, significant particularly for the Kittilä mine, was a gold stone sample, found in Kiistala’s Vuomajärvi. Valkama found it with a colleague in March of 1986. The investigations following the discovery led to finding the Suurkuusikko gold deposit. The local newspaper Kittilälehti interviewed Valkama on the subject in fall 2018 (in Finnish).
The gold-containing stone found in Vuomajärvi is part of the stone collection that Valkama has amassed over some 40 years, which Agnico Eagle acquired last year. This fine collection is displayed at the Kittilä mine, and parts of it have been presented at our open-house and other events.
Pekka Kämäräinen, a mine-exploration geologist at Agnico Eagle Finland, says, “The collection provides an excellent cross-section of the gemstones, gold mineralizations, and other mineral samples from Lapland. The collection has interesting samples from throughout our exploration region, and it also includes the sample that led to the discovery of the Suurkuusikko deposit.”
Valkama says that the K.H. Renlund Foundation awarded him two scholarships for prospecting related to rock samples. “Collecting stone samples was a popular hobby particularly in the 1990s, but people still do send samples to the Geological Survey of Finland GTK,” he says.
For those interested in stones, Valkama recommends the book Gemstones of Finland (in Finnish and English). “It is the latest presentation of Finnish gemstones and has magnificent pictures,” he summarizes. Information about geology and minerals is available online also – for instance, on the Web site of the Geological Survey of Finland.
“Stones are easiest to find where recent excavation has left the soil turned over. The colors of the stones are brighter after rain, when the soil is damp. Looking at a damp stone, you can get an idea of how it would look when polished,” says Valkama.
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